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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

December 23, 2018

Reading on Snow Days in North Carolina

by Susan Roberts

We recently had a large snowstorm in my part of NC - 12 inches of snow may not sound like a lot in areas where there is always a lot of snow but in NC, this storm shut us down.  No newspaper delivery, no mail delivery and no traffic moving on the streets.  It was the perfect time to snuggle under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and read.  I read several different genres and I'd like to share my reviews with you.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Drenched Sunflowers by Tammera Cooper

Drenched Sunflower
October 2018; 978-1732866102
ebook, print (316 pages); supernatural
I always enjoy a good Southern fiction novel and this one fit the bill. the characters were well written - flaws and all - and there was a bit of mystery in the plot. My only disappointment (and this was my fault) is that I didn't realize that this was a series and expected everything to be wrapped up at the end but now I have a reason to pre-order the next book in the series Sleeping Mallows in the spring, 2019.

Beth is starting her life over in the small town of Washington, NC. Her husband had died tragically a few years earlier in a drowning accident out West and she wanted a completely new start. She was having an old building renovated with plans for an art museum selling high-quality artwork plus her home. Her contractor, Sam was also a history professor at the local college and had a passion for both jobs. Beth has started having dreams about a young black girl and when Sam discovers a diary, they are both eager to try to find the reasons for the dreams that are causing Beth so much heartache. As the relationship between Beth and Sam deepens, there are other sinister forces in town trying to stop the plans for her business.

I normally don't like books with a supernatural element in them but this was well done as part of the storyline. I'm anxious to read the next book in the series for the continuation of the Sam and Beth romance as well as the mystery behind Beth's dreams.

Buy Drenched Sunflowers at Amazon

The Boys in the Cave by Matt Gutman

The Boys in the Cave
November 2018; William Morrow
audio, ebook print (320 pages); nonfiction
I don't read much non-fiction but this book caught my attention because I was so interested in their rescue while it was happening. It was a very interesting book and gave a lot of behind the scenes information that was not been available during the rescue.

Back in June 2018, we first learned about the Thai soccer team - 12 young boys and their coach - were trapped deep in a cave. Authorities knew that they were in the cave because they found their bikes and backpacks but they had no idea where they were inside the massive cave or even if they were still alive. The rainy season had started and much of the cave was flooded and only accessible by trained divers. Once the boys were found, a plan had to be made to get them out. Everyone on the rescue team felt that there was no chance that all boys would be brought out alive. It was only through the skill and determination of several of the dive leaders that all the boys survived.

Even knowing the outcome of the rescue attempts didn't deter from the excitement in this book. I had no idea all that was involved and how totally dangerous it was for all involved. If you were glued to your TV set during this rescue, you need to read this book and get more in-depth information to realize what heroes the rescuers really were.

Buy The Boys in the Cave at Amazon

Once a Midwife by Patricia Harman

Once a Midwife
November 2018; William Morrow
audio, ebook, print (512 pages)
historical fiction
This novel is about a midwife in Hope River, West Virginia during WWII. It is book 3 in the Hope River series and can be read as a standalone with minimal confusion. However, there were a few places in the book that I wished I had read the series in order so I plan to read the first two books to answer my questions.

Patience is a midwife in a small town. She lives there with her husband Daniel, a veterinarian, and their 4 children. She is well known as a midwife in the area and the women trust her to deliver their babies. When World War II starts, life in their small town changes. War becomes the main topic of conversation and everyone is willing to make sacrifices to show their patriotism. Even though most of the local men are willing to sign up for the military to go fight, Patience's husband is just the opposite. He had seen bloodshed during the first world war and vowed to never kill again. The people in the area - many of them his friends - judge him to be a coward but he stands his ground even to the point of being imprisoned by the US government for his pacifist beliefs. Can Patience continue to support her husband even though she doesn't understand him? Can she keep her family and their farm intact during this tumultuous time in their community?

I enjoyed reading about Patience and her family and plan to read the first two books. I thought that this book was too long and would have been more effective at a shorter length but I did find it interesting to read about delivering babies at home during this time period.

"Me...When I look out the window at Spruce Mountain, despite the raging war in Europe, Asia and Africa, I am surprised to feel peace.  This winter...I've found a part of myself that I thought was lost.  The warrior once lost has returned."

Other Books in the Hope River Series
1. The Midwife of Hope River
2. The Reluctant Midwife

Buy Once a Midwife at Amazon

The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

The Paris Secret
October 2018; Bookouture; 978-1786816283
ebook, print (200 pages); literary
'What so many men have failed to realize after waging all these wars is that there are no real victors - there are only casualties and they keep coming long after the battle has passed.'

I read a lot of WWII fiction and this love story set in Paris during WWII was definitely a winner in this genre. It was a real page-turner with some smiles and some tears and with a wonderful ending. It was a fairly short book and I think it should have been longer with more character development but overall I enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

The novel begins with Valerie in her 90s taking the train back to Paris. As she tells her story to her seatmate on the train, her past comes alive. When Valerie was 3, she was sent from Paris to live with her aunt in England at the end of WWII. Her aunt didn't tell her that she had any family left in Paris until she was in her 20s.  She knew that her mother had died but wanted to know why her grandfather didn't want to raise her. She manages to get a job in her grandfather's bookstore in Paris. She doesn't tell him who she is when she starts her job but tries to get more information about her family. Her aunt warned her ‘He gave you away for a reason, Val. I know that you want this fairy-tale reunion but I’m just not sure you’re going to get it.’ but she still persists in trying to find out her history. Will Valerie and her grandfather be able to help each other or will the truth open up wounds that will never heal?

I enjoyed this short trip to Paris and wish this was a real bookstore that I could visit. This is a wonderful story about family and love and how they manage to exist even during the worst times. It's a book full of sadness at what could have been but also joy at the discovery of new friends and family. I highly recommend it.

Buy The Paris Secret at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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